Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Steve Skerlos has received the Champion for Industry Award from ThomasNet, an online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing in the U.S. and Canada. Throughout 2019 they will be honoring the achievements of distinguished company leaders in the manufacturing industry. Those who are awarded are nominated by their peers for embracing innovation, inspiring their colleagues, dedicating themselves to finding trailblazing solutions, and driving business forward.
Skerlos is the founder and CTO of Fusion Coolant Systems, which is a patented supercritical carbon dioxide MQL and coolant system that has revolutionized machine cutting. He became focused on sustainable development and pursued a graduate degree in pollution prevention. Later in his journey at U-M, he became part of a metal-cutting group to work specifically on pollution prevention. From there, it launched his passion for discovering solutions to cutting fluids.
"This was a particularly challenging ecosystem because a cutting fluid touches everything. It touches tools. It touches the machines that do the cutting. It touches the gas industry. It replaces the fluid industry," explains Skerlos. "So we had a lot to figure out to make this practical."
Skerlos succeded in this venture and created Fusion Coolant Systems, which is produced from supercritical CO2 collected from exhaust smokestacks and recycles it into the cutting fluid.
Commenting on his award and his time spent with U-M Mechanical Engineering, Skerlos said, "Actually, it was the honor of a lifetime to be hired by the ME Department as a Manufacturing Engineer focused on sustainability and cutting fluids. The technology spent the first 7 years of its life in Mechanical Engineering as we learned about its properties and impacts on material removal processes."
The start of Fusion Coolant Systems was called "Pure-Cut" (TM) which started at ME and then left 10 years ago and transformed into what it is now.
"It simply wouldn't have happened without the collaborations with faculty and students in Mechanical Engineering and beyond for the 10 years prior to Fusion Coolant Systems," explained Skerlos. "It was a gift to have faculty colleagues so supportive of my work in this area - as there are still just a few such similar programs globally. With our collective depth and breadth, and the great quality of our students, I'm convinced U-M is the best place to conduct sustainable design and manufacturing in the world."